Elections 2020,  State

How Canceling the Miami Debate Might Impact Florida Voters

The second presidential debate between President Donald Trump (R) and former Vice President Joe Biden (D) was to be held in the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida, on Oct. 15. The debate was going to be held in a town hall format where undecided voters would ask the candidates questions. However, after Trump tested positive for COVID-19, the debate was canceled.

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced that the debate would be held virtually, having both candidates participate from separate locations. Trump rejected a virtual debate saying, “I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate. That’s not what debating is all about. You sit behind a computer and do a debate. It’s ridiculous, and they cut you off whenever they want.”

Trump wanted to push back both future debates by a week, holding the Miami debate on Oct. 22 and the debate in Nashville on  Oct. 29.. However, the Biden campaign rejected the idea saying that the commission is the one who schedules the debates. The Commission on Presidential Debates then decided to cancel the debate all together.

The format of the debate would’ve most likely not been favorable to Trump, as it tends to benefit empathetic and compassionate candidates. In a Pew Research Report, voters described Biden as more compassionate. However, the cancelation of this event concerned Republican strategists as they say the debate would have been the best way to pitch his ideas and case to voters.

As a result of Trump backing out, Biden announced he would participate in a town hall in Philadelphia hosted by ABC News on Oct. 15, the night the debate was supposed to be held. It was then announced that Trump would also hold a town hall meeting in Miami hosted by NBC.

There was controversy over having the town halls at the same time, as voters would have to pick one to watch or flip between the channels.

That night, Trump’s town hall aired on three channels: NBC, MSNBC and CNBC. However, Biden got more viewers with 15.1 million viewers as opposed to Trump’s 13.5 million viewers. After Trump’s town hall was off the air, Biden’s viewers rose to 16.7 million.

Biden discussed topics such as education initiatives, the coronavirus vaccine, tax cuts, fracking and transgender policy. He talked about increasing funding for low-income schools. He also discussed the coronavirus vaccine and said he would take it and encouraged others to take it once it was approved and safe.

When it comes to the Supreme Court, Biden said he was not a fan of court packing. However, he would be willing to push for more seats depending on how the Senate handles Trump’s nominee (now Justice) Amy Coney Barrett. Biden also proposed that he would eliminate Trump’s tax cuts. He argued that fracking should not be banned. He also said he will reverse Trump’s executive orders on transgender policies.

On the other hand, Trump discussed topics such as his coronavirus test, face masks, taxes and the IRS, Roe v. Wade, denouncing white supremacists, and transfer of power. He said that he feels good after testing positive for the coronavirus. He talked about the use of face masks and claimed there are “many different stories” from officials.

Trump also talked about how poorly the IRS has treated him. He continued with discussing his Supreme Court nominee, Barrett, and said he doesn’t expect her to rule a certain way including a case revisiting Roe v. Wade. He also said that he denounced white supremacists, and that if he were to lose the election, he would accept a peaceful transfer of power. Trump also discussed the economy and claims it is doing well and will be even better next year.

The cancelation of the debate and replacement with town halls may affect voters, especially in Florida. Trump’s campaign had planned to have him or one of his family members in Florida every day in the last few days leading up to the election. This strategy has been impacted by Trump’s positive coronavirus test and the cancelation of the Miami debate.

Although it may seem that the cancelation of the debate has negatively affected Trump’s campaign, Trump has made a comeback in Florida. In the days prior to the cancelation, Biden was beating Trump by a few points according to the polls by RealClearPolitics and FiveThirtyEight. However, in the days after the town halls, the approval rating between the two candidates have been getting closer to each other. Based on these two polling websites, as of Oct. 27, Biden was ahead by 1.6 points in Florida on average, far less than the average of a 3.4-point lead he had on Oct. 15.

Did Trump benefit from the cancelation of this debate, and will he be able to make a total comeback in Florida? Being that Florida is a battleground state, the winner of the state can affect the election tremendously. That being said, it is possible that the effects of the Miami debate will influence not only the results of the election but the future of our nation as a whole.

Featured image: Skyline of Miami, FL, the city where the second presidential debate was supposed to be held. Unmodified photo by X-Weinzar used under a Creative Commons license. (https://bit.ly/2TNJx4x)

Check out other recent articles from the Florida Political Review here.  

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